Featured Love and Relationships

More Than Anything, Be a Friend

By: Rachel Martin

This past Christmas, I got my first Michael Kors bag. I just graduated from college in December, and I told myself that I could not purchase one until I got my first big girl job. I did not cave in, and it was not a present from a family member. It was a surprise gift from my boyfriend.

He came over and met my dad for the first time and took pictures with my family, then we headed to his house to spend time with his family on the holiday. He told me that he wanted us to exchange presents at his house. I gave him mine first. When it was his turn, he gave me a cardboard box from the mail. He got a knife to cut the tape, and said “I’m going to go upstairs while you open your gift,” and he did just that. I was left standing there feeling a little confused. I opened the box, and there it was.

The bag. The Michael Kors bag that I had been wanting since my sophomore year of college. I just stood there speechless because I did not have a clue that he was getting me the bag. In the beginning when we got together, I showed him a picture of the bag and told him that I would one day purchase it when I started working.

Two weeks before Christmas, we were on FaceTime and he was on his laptop. He told me that he was looking for some shoes, and the whole time he was buying the bag. When he came back downstairs, I gave him the biggest hug I ever gave him. I had never felt so surprised and happy. It was not even about the bag, it was the fact that he really wanted to surprise me and give me something that I have always wanted.

I have only been in one other relationship before this one, and that relationship led to depression and a loss of confidence. The relationship was not horrible, but was filled with a lot of disappointment. Being involved with the person six months after the breakup did not help either. I did not go through a “being heartless” phase, but I went through what I like to call “staying too woke”. I was always feeling like I had to watch my back and not believe what guys were saying before they even got a chance. After a while, I did not like feeling that way. If I wanted to continue to grow and eventually find someone to grow with, I will have to let go of that mentality.

When he and I started talking, something clicked early on. I did not understand it for quite a while because it seemed like we were from two totally different worlds. As we got to know each other more, we realized that we were more similar than we thought.

After our first date, his car got stolen. When he told me, he said, “I will understand if you don’t want to talk to me anymore.” I was offended because that is such a shallow thing to do over something that he had no control over. When I told him that, he was so shocked and could not believe that I was going to keep talking to him. I let him know that I am not interested in what a man has or what he can do for me, especially now because we are so young and we do not have it all together right now.

The important thing to do more than anything else, is be a friend. A friend will not kick you while you are down. A friend will try their very best to help keep your spirits high. A friend is there before the storm clears. The one thing about men is their self esteem is a huge part of their demeanor, and women can have a huge influence on how they interact with others. When a woman tears him down, his whole outlook on life can change negatively. When a woman builds him up, his days are brighter despite the chaos around him.

When you have a good man, he will support you just like you supported him. There are many women who support their significant other, and it is not reciprocated. It is unfortunate and unfair, but the men that do support their significant other make life so much better.

Black women in particular have been stereotyped for years as the unsupportive type. The type that is always nagging, being negative, and constantly reminding men that they are not where they should be. If he really is a buster, just let him go. However, if he treats you right, is not a quitter, and is really trying then you have to be a woman of peace.

As I prepared to graduate from college, I went through a rough patch were things were extremely stressful. I was having family issues and I was trying to figure out what exactly I was going to do post grad. He was there through it all. Every time he gave me a pep talk, he reminded me that just like I was there for him, he would be there for me. We are both hard workers and we want to see each other succeed, and it is because we are friends first.

I believe that my boyfriend stereotyped me in the beginning to be a young, educated black sister who wanted a man that has more or must have a nice car and career. I had to let him know that I know that we are only 22 years old.

There is so much that we still have to accomplish and I will support him through any decisions he decides to make as long as he does the same with me. We have been going strong in our relationship ever since.

Women, be a friend first and a woman of peace. It takes your relationship further than you can imagine when you have a good man. Take the time to communicate effectively with your partner and lift him up when he is down. Going back to the Michael Kors bag that he got me that gift to thank me for being his peace. He wanted to do something for me that I was not expecting and just for being the type of woman that he has always wanted and even needed, which is a woman that brings peace to him by being his friend.

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